The chefs at Hachi Restaurant & Lounge accessorize the simple, straightforward presentations of Japanese cuisine with flourishes of pan-Asian and European flair. Cinnamon-coated orders of seared tuna arrive with a piquant dab of wasabi aioli, and grilled clams fist bump taste buds with their bacon-truffle butter. Even the sushi pushes its traditional bounds with a dollop of mango salsa or yogurt sauce lining rolls of spicy salmon and hand-peeled grains of rice.
Much like Paul Bunyan's cummerbund, the dining room spreads across two stories, creating the ambience of a lounge with its intimate lighting, S-curved couches, and rich wooden floors. Circular sconces cast sunburst patterns of light across the walls, and blue and purple fiber-optic lighting dangles over the bar.
Sushein's sushi will slip right through your fingers if you're not fast enough. A rotating conveyer belt, like an airport carousel full of tiny, brightly colored edible luggage, carries the super-fresh morsels past diners, who can pluck up the rolls of their choice as they approach. Wildly popular in Japan, this processes, known as Kaiten-style sushi, allows diners to sample many different kinds of rolls in a lively and whimsical environment. White blown-glass chandeliers illuminate the bite-laden conveyer belt as diners watch from their perches in stylish white booths and white tables. Flat-screens broadcast anything from the game to late-night shows on Saturday, when Sushein’s sushi scoots by diners until 1 a.m.
Chinese-American owner Yeh Ching brings the flavors she picked up while living in Malaysia to Canteen 82, teaming with her Hong Kong–born partner, Alan Lee, to further diversify the restaurant’s eclectic menu of Asian fusion fare. Dim sum influences abound, with house-made Shanghai soup dumplings served by the dozen, but small plates aren’t everything at Canteen 82, where robust entrees include a traditional Malaysian slow-cooked beef dish touted in a 2010 review by the New York Times. An espresso machine conjures velvety lattes to chase Malaysian-style curry puffs or dishes from a vegetarian menu to sate herbivorous patrons and their pet brontosauruses.
Fresh, chilled fish crown the hand-cut rolls of sushi at Wild Ginger, where the Japanese delicacies comprise only a small part of the robust Asian fusion menu. Diners can stick to one cuisine or construct meals that pull from all over the East, beginning with an appetizer of edamame, moving on to aromatic platters of pad thai or takeout-classic general tso’s chicken, and sides such as Singapore-influenced rice noodles. Skilled culinary professionals hand-blend the restaurant's broad repertoire of sauces from ingredients so fresh that they regularly deposit coins into the kitchen's swear jar.
Tucked behind an unobtrusive downtown storefront, diners devour fish-fueled feasts at Mika Japanese Cuisine & Bar. Aquatic fare nestles in sashimi and specialty sushi, such as the shrimp-tempura-and-avocado-stuffed roll topped with black pepper tuna and onion salsa. Beef, chicken, and seafood broiled and marinated in gentle teriyaki sauce entice taste buds, as do steaming bowls of tempura and udon noodles. Larger parties can retire to the eatery's private karaoke room, which features a floor laid with tatami mats, and nibble on festive platters while singing into microphones or unguarded hand rolls.
Just because on some nights you might find chef-owner Sammy Kubo playing jazz drums at Kuboya doesn't mean that his focus is split. Even as he keeps rhythm for the delight of crowd, he still oversees a kitchen at work crafting steaming bowls of ramen and other Japanese staples. The soups are loaded with char-siu pork or chicken, crisp veggies, and miso or soy-based broth. Other homestyle menu items include katsu curry, takoyaki, and salmon onigiri. The eatery is cozy, too, with exposed brick walls and woven cane chairs with woven backs.